I wrote my poem “These Things” when I was living in a constant shame spiral. Every day I felt so wrapped up in guilt that I couldn’t find any inner peace. The guilt felt like a heavy pressure constantly sitting on my chest.

Even now I find the topic of this poem hard to share but I feel like it’s necessary many people deal with this issue and they never talk about it, especially Christians. They hide in it until it ends up blowing up their lives and ruining their relationships with family and friends.

Take a deep breath in, and out. Here we go.

I was raised in a religious family and let’s face it, religion can mean many things. To my family, it meant following a certain set of rules that the church had put in place in order to be judged a worthy Christian. 

These rules were confusing and hard to live up to for adults let alone children. The rules would also change based on what church you attended. In my case, how the rules were applied was in a much more stringent fashion than what my friends experienced with their parents.  

My parents created a line that was not to be crossed. One side was right and one side was wrong and there was no grey. If I crossed this line, I would become an outcast, effectively inviting their judgment and accepting their label of a very specific sin.

The sin I am referring to in this poem is lust. 

I want to make this point right away. As an adult, there are certain measures of lust that are okay. It’s okay to lust after your spouse. It’s okay to enjoy the pleasure that your sexual relationship provides you. 

But as a four-year-old, it was not okay.

I had been exposed to graphic adult content of some kind when I was four years old. It could have been porn, walking in on my parents having sex, or the fact that I had possibly been molested. 

I didn’t understand what I was seeing or how I was feeling but it has always felt like a violation to me. I was way too young to comprehend sex. Consequently, I acted out the things that I saw. I pleasured myself in public, in school, at home in front of my family, and this continued into my teens. 

In my teens, I felt haunted by lust. I tried everything I could think of to get away from it. But no matter how hard I tried, I always found myself returning to my sinful thoughts.  It was a sin to lust constantly. It was a sin to pleasure myself the way I was. The guilt consumed me. 

I remember a time when I had been given some free books from the library. One of them was the book, “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume”. The book was about a young girl and her coming of age story. In the book, the character talks openly about masturbation. I was so upset and unnerved by this that I took a marker and blacked out all the parts that talked about it.

In my Christian community, there was the unspoken rule that masturbation was a sin. God didn’t approve of it. I felt like I was living two lives. Lust consumed me and yet I was also trying to put on a public persona of the perfect Christian lifestyle.

I didn’t know how to process this feeling and so I wrote about it. “These Things” may be a short poem, however, it’s dripping with anger and frustration, and it’s hard for me to share, but I hope it makes it easier for others to look inward and recognize that it is OK to have these feelings.

I had been raised with an unhealthy view of sex. It was not the fault of the four-year-old or seventeen-year-old me that I was being raised by two parents who, because of their own guilt-ridden past with sex had passed their guilt onto me, an innocent child.

I had to recognize this pattern of behavior to realize that it is okay for me to have these feelings. I am human. I am a woman now with healthy sexual desires. God gave me these desires and it’s okay to express them.

It’s what I did once I recognized that within myself that matters. 

The first step is always recognition.

Of these things I am ashamed.
To desperate measures have I gone.

I can no longer associate myself with these things.
They must leave.

These Things

I am telling them to go.
Go away from me!

Go away and never never come back!
You have control over me no longer!

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